The avocado industry says it is the closest it has ever been to securing new export agreements for lucrative avocado markets in Thailand and Japan.
Avocado industry hopeful exports to Thailand and Japan will begin by end of year
The Australian avocado industry says it is the closest it has ever been to securing new export agreements for lucrative avocado markets in Thailand and Japan.
Avocados Australia chief executive John Tyas is hopeful exports from Western Australia will begin for the coming harvest in September.
Mr Tyas said the main concern for both countries was Australia’s fruit flies, but negotiations over an export protocol for the flies had taken significant steps forward.
“Later this month I understand there will be some audits undertaken by the Japanese Government of pack houses in WA, so that’s a really good sign that things are progressing,” he said.
“Our government is in negotiations with the Japanese Government around a suitable protocol based on what we call conditional non-host status for hard green avocados.
“What that means is when the avocados are in their hard condition picked from the tree they’re actually not susceptible to fruit fly. It’s only once they start to soften that fruit fly can infest them.
“The protocol that we’re working on for Thailand has been presented to Thailand and there’s been feedback on that.”
Paving the way for other states
So far discussions have centred around how to manage WA’s Mediterranean fruit fly, but Mr Tyas said the industry was hoping a successful WA export industry would pave the way for fruit from states with Queensland fruit fly.
“At the moment we’ve seen a real opportunity for WA in particular because Mediterranean fruit fly is a concern in a number of countries,” he said.
“Acceptance that hard green avocados are not a host of fruit fly is well accepted around the world and there is a lot of scientific data to support that. So we should be able to get that over the line fairly soon.”
Mr Tyas said in terms of Queensland fruit fly, there had been research done in Australia in the past that had demonstrated Hass avocados were not a host of Queensland fruit fly in their hard green condition.
“However, we’ve found that the level of trials that was done, or the number of insects that were tested, wasn’t sufficient to meet international protocols,” Mr Tyas said.
“So there is work underway at the moment that’ll hopefully be finished at the end of this year that will prove with an adequate level of rigour for international trade.”
Quality and supply vital
Mr Tyas said both countries presented good market opportunities for WA growers, but produce needed to be marketed as clean and green.
He said quality and reliable supply was paramount.
With the West Australian avocado industry expected to increase production significantly, Mr Tyas said new markets were essential for the industry.
“It is a concern and there are new plantings going in all the time, so it’s essential that we open new markets,” he said.
“There are other markets that we are trying to open. China is another one that we’d love to have access to, and there are other markets throughout Asia in particular that don’t have protocols.
“Most of our export fruit goes to Singapore and Malaysia at the moment and those markets don’t require protocols.
“We need to keep pushing every avenue that we can to get new markets for this increased supply.”
Mr Tyas said he would like to see Australia’s avocado exports grow from 4 per cent to about 10 per cent in coming years.